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Pregnancy Streams of Thought

Having the day off work today for MLK Day has been such a blessing. Why can’t every weekend be a three-day weekend? With lots of thoughts running through my head and not much else on the agenda for the day, I figured it was the perfect timing for another post.

This morning I’m especially grateful for the hot cup of coffee Greg prepared and brought to me in bed. We often do this on weekends – slowly wake up, one of us asks the other to go make coffee, and we proceed to sip on it in bed while watching the news or videos on our phones for a while. The only thing missing was a doughnut. A chocolate-iced, cream-filled doughnut (my all-time favorite). You see, last weekend we picked up doughnuts for breakfast on Saturday to enjoy with our coffee. Are coffee and doughnuts not the most perfect combination in the world? I think so. But I also think it’s best not to make that a weekly habit, especially for the sake of the baby girl growing inside of me. So maybe a bi-weekly habit instead ūüėČ

In all seriousness, now that I’m well past the nausea phase of pregnancy, I’m trying to keep my diet in check and actually eat vegetables and other whole foods as much as I can. To clarify, I am using the word “diet” in terms of my general food intake, not saying I am on a restrictive “diet” of ANY kind. While I wanted nothing to do with any vegetables¬†and most fruits¬†for a while, I do find them tasting at least somewhat enjoyable these days. Even if it means feeling¬†like Kevin when Michael tried to force feed him broccoli.

broccoli

Homemade salads still don’t do it for me, so Verde has been my favorite way to fit it lots of greens while satisfying my taste buds at the same time. What perfect timing since they recently opened a location about a mile from my office.

verde

I am just about to the third trimester of this pregnancy and can’t believe how quickly it’s going. While I am so excited to have my baby here, the reality of bringing another human life into the world has hit me hard this week. One of my best friends had a baby girl about two weeks ago and visiting with them so close to my own due date has really caused me to pause and soak in these last couple months of just Greg and me.

I’ve also struggled with sudden fear of, “Oh my gosh how am I going to protect this child from all of the bad, evil, scary things in this world?!” How do I make sure she’s a good kid, stays safe from physical harm, or makes friends? I’m trusting my own parents’ influence on my life, combined with God’s will and direction, will lead the way Greg and I raise our daughter.

Before we need to worry more about that, Greg and I will be taking one last getaway, just the two of us…plus Zoey. For my Christmas/birthday gift, we’re going to Asheville, NC! We will be there the last weekend in January and hoping to see at least a little snow. Zoey is ready to brave the cold¬†in her new “boyfriend sweater” she opened on Christmas.

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I always thought dogs dressed in clothes was ridiculous, but having a dog who is cold all the time just makes me want to help her be comfortable.

We have a list of restaurants to try and I’ll be getting a facial at the Grove Park Inn. I’m sure we’ll spend time at the Biltmore, but otherwise I would love to get recommendations. Please share!

Thai Chicken & Broccoli Noodles

I haven’t had any ¬†weird cravings since becoming pregnant, but have been LOVING international foods – Italian, Asian, and Mexican foods have been my favorite. I also haven’t had much desire to cook, leading to more frequent stops for take-out.

After browsing my Pinterest boards and rediscovering¬†this recipe for Thai noodles¬†Jessica posted last spring, I was convinced to get back in the kitchen for myself…and pray Greg would help clean up the mess that comes with it since I definitely don’t have the energy to deal with dishes anymore.

It turned out just as I hoped and satiated all my cravings. The best part about dishes like this is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Bell peppers, zucchini and carrots would be other good additions. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

thainoodles2

Thai Chicken & Broccoli Noodles
Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats
Makes 3-4 large servings

Ingredients:
For the chicken-
1 lb chicken breast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce

For the noodles & veggies-
8 oz lo mein noodles
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/3 cup canned light coconut milk
1/2 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:
1. Prep the chicken for 2-4 hours prior to cooking. Season chicken with the salt and pepper, then prepare the marinade by whisking together the olive oil, chili sauce, garlic, brown sugar and soy sauce. Pour mixture over the chicken and let sit in fridge for 2-4 hours.
2. Cook the noodles according to package directions (mine said to cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes). Drain and set aside.
3. In a large wok or skillet, cook the chicken breasts over medium-low heat until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Remove from pan and slice or cut into chunks.
4. In the same skillet, add broccoli and onion. Turn up heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Turn the heat to low.
5. Again in the same skillet, add the coconut milk, chili sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic. Whisk for 3-4 minutes until sauce becomes slightly thickened. Add noodles, broccoli/onion mixture, and the chicken. Stir to combine. Add red pepper flakes and stir again. Serve immediately.

Weekend in Orlando, Afternoon in Beaufort

It turns out publishing my first blog post after several months away did not instantly bring back the blogging bug inside of me. With one of our biggest events of the year coming up at work next Saturday, my head has been in other places. Not to mention “baby brain” starting to take effect. I swear it’s¬†a real thing. Just get me through this week and it’s all down hill from here. Thanksgiving! Christmas! Birthday month!

Until then, let’s recap. Last weekend, Greg and I ventured further south to Orlando to visit Brooke and Austin.

Orlando-Collage_11-15Yay for sibling time! (we missed you, Ryan!) The main reason for the trip was because Brooke and I had tickets to the Taylor Swift concert in Tampa. To sum it up: Amazing. I have never considered myself a huge T-Swift fan, but have enjoyed her music and have listened to her 1989 album on-and-off in my car for the past year. I know every word to every song (well, sometimes I make up my own words, but you know what I mean) and had the best time singing along with her live. After being to her concert, I have even more respect for her and everything she does. She is so talented.

We also saw Brooke steal the show (okay, I’m a little biased) at SeaWorld’s Shamu show. She recently¬†switched jobs from working at Discovery Cove leading dolphin encounters to now taking center stage with the orcas. Watching her live her dream brought tears to my eyes. #ProudSister

On the drive home, when we would normally have lunch at Chipotle or another fast-food chain restaurant, Greg suggested stopping in Beaufort for something different. We took a slight detour off our route and found Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe in downtown Beaufort. Greg even treated me to dessert at Common Ground Coffee.

Beaufort_11-15

Perk of being pregnant #1.

We enjoyed a short walk along the water before heading back home feeling happy, grateful and well-rested.

A New Chapter

I’m baaacckkkk.

  • Same blog name.
  • Same blogger.
  • Slightly different web address (wordpress, not blogger…it was surprisingly super easy to transfer the old posts!).
  • Different approach and topics.

Looking back at my old posts, a part of me wanted to wipe the blog¬†clean and start completely new. Some of those pictures were sooo bad, weren’t they? But I don’t want to forget or lose those 3+ years of documented memories. The original Counting My Cupcakes saw me through my engagement, bringing home our first puppy, moving, marriage, moving again, job changes, and many, many delicious recipes. Plus, it took me long enough to come up with my blog name the first time, I didn’t want to go through that process again.¬†So Counting My Cupcakes stands.

How will things be different? 

Dad and me_Folly2015
Dad and me on Folly Beach this weekend

Might as well get right to it.¬†I’m pregnant! Greg and I are¬†expecting our first bundle of love in April 2016 and we couldn’t be more excited. I have always known God made me to be a mother. It’s one of the few things in life I’ve been certain of. After what felt like the longest several months of trying unsuccessfully, God surprised us when we least expected it…isn’t that how it always happens? I grew so much in faith these past several months. At times when some may have turned away from God, I felt closer than ever. And it’s not because of anything I did on my own, but solely the grace and love of God. Instead of centering the blog on food, I want to this be a place centered on truly life-giving stories, thoughts and experiences.

I do still intend to share the occasional recipe, restaurant review, or other food-related topic. Despite my extreme lack of appetite these past few weeks thanks to the baby on board, my tastes are coming back slowly but surely.¬†You guys, I¬†wasn’t even at all interested in¬†ice cream, chocolate (!!!), or essentially any dessert until recently.¬†It¬†has been¬†the strangest thing.

Anyway.¬†My main reason for bringing back the blog is¬†to have documentation of this new¬†phase in my life. Posts will likely be very inconsistent in terms of timing. Maybe I’ll post once a week, maybe more, maybe less.

That all being said, if anyone is paying any attention at this point, here’s to the next chapter of Counting My Cupcakes!

~Brittany

Bye, Bye 2014

We still have a good week and a half of 2014 left, so no need to say goodbye quite yet. But seeing as I’ll be out of the country most of this week I wanted to get a head start. Is it ironic I haven’t blogged in more than two months, yet I’m popping in to say my goodbyes to 2014 early? Shrug.

Greg and I will be going on a cruise with his family to Cozumel and Belize, leaving on Christmas Eve. I don’t really want to think about putting on a bathing suit right now (eek!), but otherwise I’m looking forward to celebrating the holiday with family, enjoying some warmth since mid-40s is entirely too cold for me, and relaxing without any real obligations.

I wanted to reminisce on some highlights of 2014, one of which being that pretty cupcake up there. It wouldn’t be Christmas without an overload of sweet treats. Cookies, cupcakes, chocolate…bring it on. After all…

I can focus on healthy eating the rest of the year, but around Christmas I can’t ever resist. Hence not wanting to be a bathing suit this week, but life goes on!

Now that I’ve been sufficiently sidetracked, let’s get to it.

Highlights of 2014:
-Left my old job, giving myself about two weeks of time off before the new venture.
-Visited my sister Brooke in Orlando and played with beluga whales at SeaWorld.

Skied in Breckenridge, CO with Greg. 
-Started a new job.
-Greg and I celebrated our 1st anniversary with our defrosted funfetti wedding cake and an amazing dinner at Peninsula Grill. (A new tradition??)
-Zoey finally learned to enjoy the beach.
-Visited my brother Ryan in Washington D.C.
-Celebrated lots of friends’ weddings.
-Ran my first half marathon (Kiawah Island).

I’m sure I’ve forgotten other things, but Christmas is taking over my brain today. After seeing the Charleston Christmas Special on Friday night, I am in full Christmas mode. Not to mention it’s three days away! By the way, I highly recommend the musical show to locals or anyone visiting Charleston this time of year. To describe it in one word: awesome.

I may be back soon, I may not. Only time will tell.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

So here I am again. Back on the blog, because these pumpkin muffins deserve serious attention. 
These are the best pumpkin muffins I’ve ever made. These might even be the best muffins of any kind I’ve ever made. SO SOFT AND SO MOIST. So perfectly pumpkin-y, you can’t deny fall isn’t the best season ever. Then just add some chocolate chips, because chocolate makes everything better. I know I already have a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe on this blog somewhere, but this is new and improved.¬†
I got really into fall spirit by re-decorating a little this weekend too. If you can even call it that. My idea of “decorating” is buying a couple of sparkly fake pumpkins and a seasonal candle from Hobby Lobby and setting them on my mantle. Good enough!¬†
In other news, after semi-consistent beach walks with Zoey this spring/summer, she FINALLY lovessss the beach. We took her for a long stroll yesterday, off the leash and all, and she did so well. I’m such a proud puppy-mama. She still isn’t crazy about the water, but is showing more curiosity each time and will at least walk a few inches in to splash around for a minute or two.¬†
…in case you cared to know.¬†
But, FALL! What festive seasonal treats and eats have you made so far? I get into pumpkin for a couple weeks, but then it’s time to move on (until Thanksgiving comes around when I NEED pumpkin pie).¬†
Spaghetti squash and chili are calling my name. I’m dying for some apple cider doughnuts too, which I’ve seen on blog after blog, instagram pic after instagram pic. I’d rather just go buy one than even attempt to make those on my own. Where can I get a good one in Charleston?! Someone please tell me. Thanks. Then go make some of these muffins. You won’t regret it.¬†

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(Adapted from Flourishing Foodie)

Makes about 18 muffins

Ingredients: 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for topping

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill muffin tin with liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sugars. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and pumpkin puree. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add chocolate chips and gently stir until evenly distributed.
4. Pour batter into muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
5. Bake 26-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm with butter.

*Store extras at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.